'Love is friendship set on fire' - Unknown
'We love because it's the only true adventure' - Nikki Giovanni
'Love is the irresistible desire to be irresistibly desired' - Mark Twain
People have all sorts of ideas about what love is but pretty much everyone would agree that love is important somehow and that everyone needs it. In today's reading, John tells us what real love is, where to get it and how to show it...
What is love?
John says, 'This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.' John knows that God's act of coming down to earth in the person of his Son Jesus Christ to die on the cross so that we can have a relationship with him beyond death is the greatest single act of love there has ever been. It is such a great example of love that John uses it as his definition up to which he measures any other idea of what love is.
Where can we find true love?
John knows that God is the expert when it comes to love because love comes first of all from God. Do we really think that human beings just learned how to love all by ourselves because of evolutionary or sociological processes? Personally I don't see how love could have come from anything on the same level as us. It has to be something that comes to us as a gift from our Creator - God. Love is too powerful and too impossible to have simply been thought of or developed by our human brains. We love because God first loved us.
And John says that anyone who knows how to love, knows God in some way because they display one of the hallmarks of God's character. They may not realise that love comes from God, but they show by their own loving acts, that they know something about him, even if they haven't yet understood where their capacity to love comes from.
How should we show love?
We should show love in the same way that God has shown love to us. God's act of love on the cross is the supreme example and definition, so our love should aim for that kind of sacrifice. Sacrificial, effective, pure, selfless, etc. John says it's imperative that we love one another as God has loved us. How can we claim to know God if we hate others? It's hypocritical to claim to know God and yet hold things against other human beings.
Do you ever find it hard to love someone? I do! What about the people who let us down, break our trust, hurt or abuse us or others we care about? I think it's extremely hard to love people like that and yet that is exactly what God expects us to do because he loves them too. But he doesn't expect us to love them in our own strength. Remember, love comes from God and God is love! So it's about letting God love these people through us. We don't (and we can't) do it by ourselves.
So, have you found your true love? Are you looking in all the wrong places? If you want to know what true love is, you need to go to the source of all love - God himself. Take a good look at what Jesus was doing when he died on the cross 2000 years ago and then ask God to help you receive it for yourself and pass it on to others.